When we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium a few weeks ago, it was noted that Tilapia was a good, sustainable fish to eat. In looking at the aquarium web site, I saw that tilapia farmed in the U.S. is considered a “best choice”, with Central and South American farmed tilapia a “good alternative”. I didn’t pay attention to its provenance when I bought it a few weeks ago (and didn’t get to cook it because of schedule changes). I removed it from the freezer today and made a call to the market where I bought it. They told me their tilapia is from Equador. Still a good choice, but not if you consider the carbon footprint that got it here. Oh, well. It is already here – meaning my kitchen.
I thought I’d do a pretty simple preparation and serve the fish with a wedge of local lemon (a.k.a. picked from my yard).
L loved the fish, its crunchy corny-ness. J loved her first two bites and then declared that she didn’t like it. This might have been because of the piece of toast that she had about half an hour before dinner, because she just couldn’t wait a second longer.
I sauteed a little frozen corn to serve on the side with a hint of butter and fresh herbs (now that I have an herb pot outside, finally). That was a big hit. I also served some sauteed purple cabbage and some steamed carrots. A very colorful plate, indeed. It went very well as an example for L when she asked the question, “What foods have antioxidants?” She is studying healthy eating habits at school and has noted that we should be eating more whole grains. “I think we should eat only brown rice, Mom,” says L, a confirmed white rice gal.
Fresh berries for dessert. Prepared by J, who was feeling particularly helpful tonight.
Upon reflection, the tilapia could have had more zing to it – perhaps some chili powder or cajun seasoning would have been nice. S and I both noticed this lack of spicyness. For those who like it, a good, flavorful tartar sauce would probably be a very good compliment, as well.
Here is what I did with the tilapia.
Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia
1 1/4 lb. tilapia fillets
1/3 cup cornmeal
(other spices as desired)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges and/or tartar sauce
Pat the tilapia fillets with paper towel to ensure that they are dry. Cut the fillets in half, lengthwise. Season the tilapia with the salt, pepper and paprika. Other spices can be used to your taste.
Set a med-large (I used a 10-inch, non-stick) frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1/2 Tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 Tbsp of the canola oil to the pan.
Spread the cornmeal on a plate. Dredge the tilapia fillets in the cornmeal and add to the pan when it is very hot. Fry half of the fillets for about 2-3 minutes per side, turning only once, when the edges of the fillet have lost their translucence. Remove to a rack to drain excess oil while you are frying the rest of the fish. Add more olive oil and canola oil to the pan, if needed, and add the rest of the fillets.
Serve with lemon wedges and/or tartar sauce.